Wed, 06 Feb 2013 18:54:25 GMT | By Reuters

China's role in Pakistan port worrying: Antony

The Defence Minister has expressed concern over China's role in operating a strategically important Gwadar port in Pakistan

China's role in Pakistan port worrying: Antony (© Reuters)

Bangalore: China's role in operating a strategically important port in Pakistan is a matter of concern for India, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Wednesday, as New Delhi and Beijing jostle for influence in the region. Indian policy-makers have long been wary of a string of strategically located ports being built by Chinese companies in its neighbourhood, as India beefs up its military clout to compete with its Asian rival.

Management of Gwadar port, close to Pakistan's border with Iran, was handed over to state-run Chinese Overseas Port Holdings last week after previously being managed by Singapore's PSA International. "It is a matter of concern to us," Antony told reporters when asked about Chinese control of the port.

When complete, the port, which is close to the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipping lane, is seen opening up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf, across Pakistan to western China, and could be used by the Chinese Navy, analysts say. "It will enable (China) to deploy military capability in the region," said Jay Ranade, of the Centre for Air Power Studies and a former additional secretary in the government.

"Having control of Gwadar, China is basically getting an entry into the Arabian Sea and the Gulf." China has also funded ports in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, and Chittagong in Bangladesh, both India's neighbours. "Gwadar is a more serious development than the others," Ranade said, as the Pakistani port gives China base facilities.

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